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It’s time to Occupy Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Paper
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They’re going to Occupy Brooklyn today in Grand Army Plaza — but why is not entirely clear.

More than 70 activists inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement held their first planning session the 11 am rally on Thursday night at a community center on Atlantic Avenue — a good crowd, but one that was unable to decide anything, even what to argue over.

The activists threw plenty of ideas against the wall at their first “General Assembly” — should the farmers in the weekly greenmarket be involved? How should the rally be publicized? Should it be moved to Cadman Plaza? Should local businesses or churches be involved? — but decided on little.

About the only thing that was decided on was that future meetings should be held somewhere else, to encourage greater diversity.

The decision? The group formed a committee to report back with sites for the next meeting.

In so much as it is being led at all, the Occupy Brooklyn movement is being spearheaded by many people who have attended various training sessions organized by Occupy Wall Street, where the guidelines of “direct democracy” are instilled.

At the Thursday night meeting, for example, the floor was open to anybody, guided only by a set of rules explained to the group by a faciliator at the beginning of the night — and Robert’s Rules these ain’t.

Facilitators bring up topics and then take “stack,” which means they solicit viewpoints from the other participants. Minority participants are bumped to the front of the “stack” if they want to speak.

To vote, participants raise both hands and wiggle their fingers.

Consensus is next to impossible given the group’s central rule: Nothing can be approved without a 90-percent majority. And the gentle rules which preach acceptance for all viewpoints can be occasionally hijacked by loud participants.

Consensus is the goal, but the movement has already been rocked by a major conflict, as the creators of the Occupy Brooklyn website and Twitter feed — key tools for getting the word out — didn’t even show up for the meeting.

Still, organizers considered the assembly a success, citing a good turnout and lots of energy in the room.

“We got as much accomplished as you can hope to do,” said a man who had facilitated much of the early part of the meeting, who gave his name only as Jeff. “It doesn’t look like a corporate board meeting, but it can work.”

Besides, disorganization is part of the horizontal decision making process, noted other organizers who have spent some time in Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park.

“Democracy is a messy process,” said Todd from Bay Ridge. “But tonight, you saw dozens of people who have never met each other go from complete strangers to a group that reached consensus.”

Or, at least, successfully formed a committee about where the next meeting should be.

Occupy Brooklyn rally in Grand Army Plaza (Flatbush Avenue at Union Street in Park Slope), Oct. 15, 11 am. For info, visit https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/occupybrooklyn.

Updated 5:27 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

al pankin from downtown says:
why can't they occupy coney island?
that place sure could use the business
Oct. 15, 2011, 6:49 am
John from Leffert Gardens says:
Bunch of useless, aimless beggars, whining about their laziness and pathetic lives. No wonder they can't agree on anything. And "minority participants are bumped to the front of the stack if they want to speak." WTF? Could they be any more self-righteous and racist/bigoted? What a bunch of losers.

70 people, huh? So you're the what, .0000000089%? Get a job and stop whining about how much you suck.
Oct. 15, 2011, 8:52 am
Not Goish from Prospect Heights says:
Wrong place to gather. Should have gathered at MetroTech, another one of those private/public areas. Home of Bruce Ratner, a lot of JP Morgan Chase offices, etc. etc. Just grandstanding at the farmers' market.
Oct. 15, 2011, 9:10 am
PShaw from Kensington says:
Nasty comments. Americans are frustrated. We have a very high unemployment rate. OWS does not have answers, but they are trying to push the problem forward. AND they are being joined by many many Americans who are older, who are workers, who are fed up. Learn your facts before you post. AND the article is very annoying. Do YOU have an answer to the suffering that is going on in this country. At least they are trying to find some
Oct. 15, 2011, 9:59 am
Y from Park Slope says:
Support the protest but Not Goish is spot on, what good is occupying a park in the middle of a traffic circle in a residential hood?
Oct. 15, 2011, 10:40 am
JC from BR says:
Who's John Galt
Oct. 15, 2011, 12:13 pm
snark from o'licious says:
Oh Brooklyn Paper, how clever of you to use the snark tactic, the last vestige of the irrelevant.
Oct. 15, 2011, 2:18 pm
gimme from around says:
yawn, gots to get me some mac n' cheese first yo
Oct. 15, 2011, 2:35 pm
Richard from Williamsburg says:
John said, "Bunch of useless, aimless beggars, whining about their laziness and pathetic lives."

John, you forgot "hippie communist socialists"!

That's what they called us 42 years ago today when my friends and I marched up Flatbush Avenue in the national day of protest -- October 15, 1969 -- known as the Vietnam Moratorium. Here's the details: http://www.hackwriters.com/moratorium.htm

Yesterday I marched through the Financial District with the OWS people. People who try to change society in positive ways are always insulted and ridiculed by the Johns of the world, who are basically useless.
Oct. 15, 2011, 4:44 pm
Tru Armor from cobble hill says:
Big ups to Richard from Williamsburg. All those silly 'children' watching from their couches and talking childish dribble are useless to all who know them.

The Founders Demand we defend this place!
Oct. 15, 2011, 9:22 pm
Publius from Bklyn says:
This from the Rupert Murdoch owned so-called "Brooklyn Paper". Perhaps some of the editorial staff plans to infiltrate Occupy Brooklyn to earn their meager paychecks from the table crumbs of their liege and master, Sir Rupert, who's sister publication, the so-called NY Post is doing its best to discredit the demonstrators.
Oct. 16, 2011, 12:06 am
Steve from Windsor Terrace says:
Maybe some of the OWS folks have something to say but sadly much of what's going on there has simply become a social gathering for hipsters.
Oct. 16, 2011, 5:16 am
Brent from Bed Stuy says:
This is sloppy reporting. I am the facilitator that explained "the set of rules". In fact I presented the whole procedure as a suggestion. Anyone was free to amend or disagree with the proposed procedure and propose a constructive alternative.
I only have time to clarify a few of the author's misrepresentations. First,"Minority participants are bumped to the front of the 'stack' if they want to speak." In fact, what I described was a progressive stack which I explained to mean that the stack-taker has the prerogative to move voices that are under-represented (not limited to race or gender and including minority political views) to the front of the stack.
Second, "Consensus is next to impossible . . .", when in fact, consensus was reached repeatedly throughout the evening.
Contact me if you want to talk about this more. bthomaslyman@gmail.com
Oct. 16, 2011, 11:41 pm

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